SKIN BARRIER - THE KEY TO HEALTHY SKIN
By mushee cosmetics | June 12, 2022
While your skin barrier is invisible to the naked eye, its importance, strength and resilience must not be underestimated! Your skin barrier acts as a protective wall against harsh environmental irritants and helps retain moisture. However, this wall can become compromised, disrupted and damaged from various external factors. This guide is designed to help you understand how to properly care for it, so you never have to deal with pesky intruders again!
What is the Skin Barrier?
Simply put, the purpose of your skin barrier is to protect your skin from the external environment. You can think of the barrier function (the stratum corneum or outermost layer of the epidermis) as a brick wall that consists of “bricks” and “mortar”.1 The bricks are dried-out, non-living skin cells that are ready to be shed, and the mortar is composed of lipids (ceramides, essential fatty acids and cholesterol). Your skin barrier is extremely impermeable and works to prevent transepidermal loss (i.e., it prevents all the natural moisture in our bodies from evaporating in the air).
Now that we have gotten the science-y stuff out of the way, you may still be wondering why the skin barrier matters and what it has to do with healthy skin. Well, going back to our brick wall analogy, the lipids in mortar work to maintain skin hydration, moisture, firmness and softness. Years of weathering harsh environmental events results in mortar depletion (decrease in lipids – this is why we are more prone to dry skin with age).
"Years of weathering harsh environmental events results in mortar depletion (decrease in lipids – this is why we are more prone to dry skin with age)."
Is My Skin Barrier Damaged?
We have a lot to thank our skin barrier for – after all, it is the first line of defense between your skin and the environment. It’s so brave! Unfortunately, this also means that your skin barrier is the first to bravely take the punches and damage from the big, bad and scary enemies out there. A damaged skin barrier can be commonly caused by harsh environmental conditions, rough skincare habits (e.g., harsh or excessive cleansing, excessive chemical or physical exfoliation, hot water), pollutants, sun damage, stress and diet.
Your skin barrier will not hesitate to let you know when it’s unhappy. Common signs of a damaged skin barrier include:
- Rough or discolored patches
- Acne breakouts
- Dry and scaly skin
- Excessive sensitivity
- Bacterial, viral or fungal infections
- Inflammation and redness
While these signs do not automatically mean your skin barrier is damaged, they may point to some damage. Not to worry though – your barrier can be saved!
How Do I Repair and Maintain a Healthy Skin Barrier?
There are various things you can do to repair your skin barrier. Even once your skin barrier is strong and functioning again, it is important to continue maintaining a strong barrier function for healthy skin.
- Simplify your routine
Go back to the basics: a gentle cleanser, lipid-rich moisturizer and sunscreen.
- Use a gentle cleanser
It is crucial that you choose a cleanser that is gentle and does not strip your skin of its natural oils. Our Ready, Fresh, Go! Cleansing Gel is formulated to be effective at removing dirt and impurities while being gentle enough to use morning and evening. It is packed with glycerin, niacinamide and cucumber to help your skin strengthen and maintain its lipid barrier.
- Skip out on the exfoliation
Until your skin barrier is functioning properly again, avoid using chemical exfoliants like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). While exfoliation is great for eliminating dead skin cells, a damaged skin barrier needs a break from rapid cell turnover that you normally can achieve from chemical exfoliation. Let your skin rest and regenerate its skin barrier.
- Moisturize and hydrate regularly
Keeping your skin well moisturized and hydrated is essential in restoring and maintaining a healthy skin barrier. Reach for products that contain ceramides and humectants like jojoba seed oil, glycerin and hyaluronic acid. After cleansing, you can boost moisture and plumpness in your skin by applying our HydroLove Hyaluronic Acid Serum on damp skin.
- Feed yourself nutritious food
Include healthy and nutritious food in your diet, including essential fatty acids. Consuming healthy fats can help restore and strengthen your protective skin barrier.
- Slowly introduce products
When introducing new products, particularly exfoliants and products containing active ingredients, introduce them slowly into your skincare routine to avoid causing damage and irritation.
- Don’t forget sunscreen
Sun damage is a major cause of a compromised skin barrier and results in free radical damage. Protect your skin barrier against UVA and UVB rays by wearing sunscreen daily. You can also use an antioxidant serum like our Oh Jay! Vitamin C Serum to help neutralize skin-damaging free radicals.
As the first line defense against the world, your skin barrier is constantly defending your skin from external threats. It needs your help to fight against the nasties, so make sure to always give it the love and care that it deserves.
Disclaimer: Beauty Vibin' is intended to help educate on skincare ingredients and skincare related topics. It is designed for informational purposes only. Information on ingredients used in cosmetic products appearing on the Site are not intended to be, nor should be interpreted as, advice or a recommendation concerning the use of any cosmetic product. If you have questions about the use of a cosmetic product, please consult a physician. Please note any Mushee Cosmetics products with referenced ingredients are formulated for cosmetic use only.
1 Peter M Elias and Kenneth R Feingold, Skin Barrier (Taylor Francis, 1st ed, 2005).